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You might have heard of the terms early start, early finish, late start and late finish. I will explain here in a very easy way to help you understand what early and late dates are.

Early Dates:

Say project start date is 1 March 2019.

I have one activity in my project. This activity can start on 1st March. So, the earliest date this activity can start is 1 March 2019. This is its early start date. Now, say duration of this activity is 10 days. So if this activity starts on 1 March 2019, the earliest it can finish is 10 March 2019. This is its early finish date.

Late Dates:

Say my project's end date (deadline) is 30 March 2019.

I have one activity in my project. Duration of this activity is 10 days. Now, the latest date this activity can finish is 30 March. This is its late finish date. If this activity was to finish on 30 March, having 10 days of duration, so the latest date this activity will start is 20 March. This is its late start date.

I hope you understood now the difference between early and late dates in schedule.

Late dates are usually not used. Someone might just look at the late date information, in case there is an activity he wants to start as late as possible in the project and also finish as late as possible.

If you are using Primavera P6, you can add columns early start, early finish, late start, late finish to see this information.

The Steps feature in Primavera is available in the Activities window - Detail Tab - Steps tab.  This is quite useful feature to help you breakdown your activity or if you just want to specify steps to perform the activity. 

You can add as many steps for an activity as you want. You can also mark a step as completed when it is done. 

On the right-side of the bottom-window, you can click Modify to write a note against each step as well.

Both Total Float and Free Float are very important values in Primavera. The planning engineer should keep an eye on both Float types, so that decision making becomes quicker and easier if anything needs to be changed in the plan.

Let's learn what Total Float and Free Float are in Primavera.

Total Float:

By definition Total Float is ""number of days an activity can be delayed without delaying project finish date"".   Let's understand Total Float more with an example:

Example 1:

Activity A Finish Date: 10 March.  Project Must Finish Date (Deadline) is 20 March. Activity A can be delayed until 20 March, hence delay of 10 days. So, Total Float for Activity A is 10 days.

Example 2:

Activity B Finish Date is 15 April. Project Must Finish Date is 15 April. We can see that Activity B can not be moved forward as it is already finishing on last day of project. So, Total Float of Activity B is 0 days.

Total Float of an activity can be dependent on Total Float of another activity, if both are linked with each other. For example:

Activity A --> Activity B  (Linked with Relationship)

Total Float of Activity B is 0 days.  So, Total Float of Activity A is also 0 because if it moves forward, it will move Activity B forward, hence Activity A can't be moved.  Put another way, the activities are linked, the Total Float of an Activity is the same of the last linked activity.

Free Float:

It is number of days an activity can be delayed without delaying the successor activity.   An activity, when linked with another activity always has 0 Free Float because if it moves, it will also move its success activity. An activity can have more than 0 Free float if it is not linked with any successor activity, so its Free Float will by number of days this activity can be delayed until project finish date. An activity can have more than 0 Free Float also in case when the activity has more than one successor and lag between of the successor activities is longer than the other. In this case, where there is less lag between the activities, the activity will have more than 0 Free Float.

Remember that Float is also called Slack. If you use Microsoft Project, there is no word Float in there, instead the word Slack is used.







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